Former Indian external affairs minister Salman Khurshid hit back at critics of his speech in Islamabad, particularly the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whom he said were “showing signs of fascism” for comparing him to the Islamic State (IS).
“Surely, there is a difference between someone who rapes women of other faiths, takes sex slaves, enjoys slitting throats, threatens to destroy civilisation – and someone who happens to disagree with you,” he said regarding BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi comparing him to the Islamic State.
By confusing him with an IS propagandist, he added, “the BJP leader was showing signs of something called fascism”.
Khurshid defended his speech made at the Jinnah Institute in Islamabad earlier this month in an article for NDTV.
In his address, Khurshid blamed India for not responding to Pakistan’s overtures for peace in South Asia the way it should have. “If you look back at the first face-to-face [meeting] between our PMs, your PM took a brave, farsighted decision,” he said, adding that “what we (India) said and did made things uncomfortable for Pakistan after the visit.”
Further, Khurshid called out his critics over their double standards, questioning how inviting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Indian premier Narendra Modi’s inauguration was fine, but giving him credit for trying was not.
“I am still unclear whether inviting Nawaz Sharif to the PM’s oath-taking ceremony, exchanging shawls and saris with him, offering him biryani meals are fine, but giving him credit for trying to help is not; [former Indian PM] Atalji taking a bus trip to Lahore is fine, but addressing the Jinnah Institute is unacceptable,” he wrote.
Khurshid also said when he accepted the invitation for the lecture series, he could have chosen any ‘meaningless’ topic but instead went for something innovative as he was not bound by protocols and policy like when he was a minister.
Lambasting the hawkish elements with the Indian media, Khurshid said he had already warned his audience in Pakistan that his hours of interaction with the intellectual elite of the country to add some confidence would be hopelessly dashed at home in 10 minutes by the likes of Indian journalist Arnab Goswami “who think they have a birth right over ideas about India-Pakistan relations”.
“So if we want peace with Pakistan, or perhaps whether we should seek peace, we have no business to talk to Pakistan, but must pay court to these worthies of the idiot box. When they want peace, we must seek peace, and when they declare war, we should go into battle without seeking reason,” he wrote.
The former Indian minister said he was not surprised that the text of his lecture was discarded by friends and foes alike.
“If the BJP has a better idea, I will be happy to consider it. But if they do not, and the PM is stuck on some self-centered idea, what can the world do?” he went on to add.
Accusing the rightist BJP of tuning Indians away from “the enemy of humanity to becoming enemies of the world of ideas”, the former minister said, “Humanity survives massacres, but the death of ideas is the death of humanity. We need the peace of homes, schools, streets, work places, not the silence of a grave yard or the quietude of lobotomy.”
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The article originally appeared on NDTV